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Astoria Community Board Cans Bikini Bar's Liquor License Bid

ASTORIA — Queens Community Board 1 voted Tuesday night against a liquor license recommendation for "Racks," a bar and restaurant trying to open on Steinway Street which has drawn the ire of local officials because its female servers would don skimpy bikinis.

Board members were divided, and the final vote was 17 to 15 against the license recommendation, despite the fact that the board's Consumer Affairs Committee suggested voting in Racks' favor.

"Though personally, I feel morally, that this kind of entertainment is demeaning to women, this is not the forum for a lifestyle discussion — this is the forum for a small-business discussion," said committee member Frances Luhmann-McDonald, who voted in favor of a recommendation.

Local elected officials have been rallying against the bikini bar, citing its proximity to residential homes and a playground.

"Our children do not need to learn what a 'bikini bar' is on their way to Little League," state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas wrote in a letter to CB1.

Racks' lawyers Kerry John Katsorhis, however, argued that the bar — at 19-26 Steinway St. between 19th and 20th avenues — is on an almost entirely commercial block.

"This location is in no way in a residential zone," board member Luhmann-McDonald agreed. "The use of the playground does not entail passing this site."

The board ultimately voted against the liquor license recommendation for Racks, though some members warned that the bar's owners could choose to go forward and open as a full-on adult entertainment establishment — with nude dancers instead of those in bikinis — and just not serve liquor.

Katsorhis, however, said his clients have no plans to turn Racks into a strip club, and will only open if they can successfully get their liquor license.

"We're going to continue," he said, noting that the board's recommendation is only advisory and that the State Liquor Authority will make the ultimate decision.

CB1 voted on liquor license recommendations for two other local bars at Tuesday night's meeting. The board voted in favor of the application for La Boom, a nightclub at 56-15 Northern Blvd. in Woodside, but against the application for System, at 32-10 37th Ave., citing a history of noise and police complaints there.